New students at Franklin Pierce Law Center have enough to worry about, what with figuring out where everything is on campus, buying books and getting familiar with the metropolis that is Concord. That’s why the folks at the Franklin Pierce Law Library decided to get creative with their library orientation. Initially, they intended to create a video as a way of replacing the time-intensive library tour, but James Broutzos had other ideas. James went to Keene State to study film, so this project was right up his alley. Unfortunately, the drab subject matter was not. This was a bit of a conundrum for the starving artist. Does he make the film as discussed or does he take a risk and come up with an edgy story line? (Dun, dun dun …)
To the immense relief of the students at Franklin Pierce, James opted to risk everything and create the film script he was born to write. The result? Law Library Confidential, a Film Noir masterpiece. The Film Noir period in Hollywood’s history took place in the 1940s and ’50s. These films were generally black-and-white crime dramas that emphasized moral ambiguity and sexual motivation (thank you Wikipedia). You’re probably wondering how a crime drama and a law library can possibly coexist. I doubted it myself at first, but now I’m convinced of their complementary nature.
I went to the library to watch the film, which was being shown all day on Aug. 23 to new students. In the film, the opening scene begins at the circulation desk where a girl walks over to check out her books. The person manning the desk, Skip, takes a cigarette out of the girl’s mouth and asks “What can I do for you, doll?” “You can start by checking out my books,” she replies haughtily. Skip goes on to explain some of the other things you can do at the library, but he also warns about librarian Paola Diamond, who plans on retiring to the French Riviera on “unwarranted and excessive late fees.” (The scene cuts to Paola kissing dollar bills.) We also discover that the girl is looking for a certain book that the library does not have. This causes her much distress, so Skip suggests she see interlibrary-loan-shark Barry Shanks. What follows is an action-packed race to find the book while attempting to evade Paola Diamond, who is after the girl for spending too much time in the library without checking out books, thereby owing no late fees.
One of my favorite scenes was towards the end of the film, when Skip is showing our damsel in distress how to use the photocopier. He leaps over the circulation desk and goes through the steps as though he were performing a magic trick. The music selection was perfect.
There were a few filming setbacks. Leading lady Rachael Hawes had a broken foot, so she wasn’t up for doing too many retakes. And getting everyone together for filming was difficult. But after two days of filming and two months of editing, James completed the project.
What’s next for this up-and-coming director? After the calls for talk show interviews die down, he plans on pursuing a master’s degree in film restoration at Boston University. I don’t actually know what that it is, but it sounds important.
The film will be available on the library website in the near future. For now, you can view a movie trailer at http:/library.piercelaw.edu/images/video/comingsoon.wmv.